In 10 Words or Less
This is a piece of crappy crap with Bryan Cranston.
National Lampoon's Holiday Reunion is actually an educational film. After watching it, I learned that being on "Malcolm in the Middle" doesn't pay well (otherwise, why is Bryan Cranston in this movie?), that Judge Reinhold is still working (good for him) and that Neal Isreal probably didn't write Real Genius (because that guy couldn't be the same guy behind this movie.) The more you know…
All those who saw National Lampoon's Vacation are excused from viewing this travesty. You've already seen this movie, albeit in a shorter version. National Lampoon's Holiday Reunion is simply a long-play version of the time spent with Cousin Eddie in Vacation. Woodrow "Woody" Snider (Cranston), a hippie living in Idaho, invites his long-lost anesthesiologist cousin Mitch (Reinhold) to come out to the country for Thanksgiving. Mitch, who has a miserable family (including one of the ugliest children on-screen since Sam on "Diff'rent Strokes"), is craving an old-style family holiday, and takes Woody up on the offer.
Woody, like Cousin Eddie, has ulterior motives for inviting his big-city cousin down to the farm, but once you find out why, they may as well roll the credits. The rest of the flick (much like the beginning) is formulaic TV comedy, with gross-out moments like an old man whose only reason for existence is his flatulence. Cranston, who is a million times better as the dad on "Malcolm," lets it all hang out, while Reinhold plays his usual tight-assed neurotic. The plot, what there is of it, relies on culture clashes that were done better in Vacation and character motivation that's questionable at best and insulting at worst.
Reunion definitely feels like the TV movie that it is, specifically like "Malcolm," with the energy and stylized editing and camera movement that show is known for, along with cartoony sound effects and the pace-killing fade-outs. The writers' background includes "Full House" and the Disney Channel, while it was directed by Israel, whose career has spiraled down from writing Real Genius, Police Academy and Bachelor Party to directing "Shasta McNasty" and "Love Boat: The New Wave." Considering everyone involved, this movie had little chance of turning out well.
Fox put this movie on DVD in both widescreen and full-screen on a flipper disc. Interestingly, the standard version is the widescreen edition, unlike the usual flipper discs. The static menus on either side are in the same aspect ration as the respective film, with subtitle options (English and Spanish), scene selections and a bonus feature.
It looks like this was shot on digital video, and the transfer to DVD looks quite good, with spot-on color and very good detail. As expected for digital video, the movie is very sharp, without much in the way of grain or softness. The audio, presented in 5.1, is a standard TV mix, without much in the way of surround activity.
The only extra included is a funny promo for the second season of "Arrested Development," apparently since they are a dysfunctional family like the Sniders. I'm not sure how I feel about the paucity of bonus features, because I like having stuff like commentaries and such, but I don't think I could have dealt with any more of this movie.
The Bottom Line
Anytime you see a movie produced by TBS and National Lampoon, there's a good chance you really shouldn't watch it. Sure, that's a pretty narrow warning, but it's necessary. Everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves, especially Israel and Cranston.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.